Woman signing documentsThis is the next post in a series of articles focused on understanding powers of attorney in Hartford, Connecticut. The previous post provided an overview of the key topics to be addressed in this series. This post will provide basic information about durable powers of attorney, including their purpose, powers granted and important considerations when preparing the documentation. Because a power of attorney has the effect of appointing another person to make important financial and legal decisions on your behalf, it is important to carefully consider the person being appointed and the powers being granted. An experienced lawyer can help you understand the various options available and the appropriate documents for your situation. If you need assistance with a power of attorney, contact our office today to speak with an attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document by which a person, the principal, grants authority to another person, the agent, to make decisions and take actions on the principal’s behalf. The powers granted may be broad or limited to certain specific activities. A power of attorney can be helpful to the principal’s family in the event of an illness, injury or unexpected absence. In many cases, powers of attorney are created as part of a general estate planning process, whereby the principal may grant his spouse or an adult child authority to act if he becomes incapacitated in the future. In other situations, one may grant a limited power, such as the right to sign checks and pay bills during a planned trip. Unless stated otherwise, Connecticut considers powers of attorney “durable,” meaning they will remain in effect unless specifically revoked, even after the incapacity of the grantor.

The benefits of establishing a power of attorney are significant. For example, if someone is seriously injured and unable to make decisions on his own behalf, a power of attorney granted to his spouse would allow her to manage his affairs. She could quickly take action to pay his bills, access funds in his bank account, make legal claims, deal with insurance companies, manage investments and more pursuant to a durable power of attorney. Depending upon the length of the incapacitation, this could be critical to the family’s finances. Absent a power of attorney, the injured party’s spouse would be required to petition the probate court to become a “conservator” with authority to take action. In addition to being more cumbersome and time consuming, this process requires posting a bond and potentially incurring other fees.

There are obvious risks associated with granting an agent such broad authority to act on one’s behalf. Once properly executed, Connecticut law considers a power of attorney to be immediately effective unless stated otherwise. This means that, if the agent has the appropriate documentation, he can take action even if the principal is not incapacitated. For these reasons, it is essential to carefully evaluate the person chosen to be agent and the scope of the powers granted.

An experienced lawyer can help you prepare the documents that accomplish your objectives.  Our firm has served clients for over 50 years in Hartford, Connecticut. Call us today to speak with an attorney. We also service the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, East and West Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.